“Wait times for mental health services in Washington jails worsen as fines spiral”

The Seattle Times reporting on Joshua Marks: Arrested and booked in jail, then he would spend eight months there, waiting to be transferred to a state psychiatric hospital for mental health services.

“They forgot about me pretty much,” said Marsh, speaking by phone from Western State Hospital, where he was ultimately moved in late September.

“To take someone charged with a crime to trial, the defendant first has to understand why they are being tried. If they don’t understand their charges or can’t assist their attorney, they are evaluated by a mental health professional and usually found incompetent.

People in crisis or with a history of mental illness often fall into this category — and that means the court can’t start a trial, let alone issue a verdict.

Instead a judge will order the defendant to be “restored.” And once the person is found competent — which usually takes anywhere from 29 to 90 days — they can stand trial.

But for years, people would sit in jail, unable to get into a state hospital for these restoration services, and their cases would stall. Advocates argued this violated defendants’ constitutional due-process rights…”

Read the full article here.